Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

Listening to Music While You Study

Many students, high school and college alike, enjoy listening to music while the study. But does music really help students while they’re cramming for tomorrow’s mid-term or does it create an unconscious distraction?

The answer to this question is twofold. First, it depends on the way you listen to the music and second, it depends on the type of music you choose to listen to. In several university studies, it has been shown that those students who listen to music through headphones are less likely to retain and remember the information they are studying. On the other hand, students who listen to music being played in the background of their environment, often recall their studied information much easier. This is because headphones, being so close to our ears, have direct access to our brains, which can interfere with our ability to learn new and difficult information. Reversely, background music is perceived by the brain almost like an intruder. The student then focuses more intently on the information being studied, tunes out the music and in turn, is able to retain the information much easier. Also, when the brain registers familiar music in the background, it almost entirely blocks it out because it is perceived as expected sound with expected rhythms.

The other piece of this puzzle involves the type of music students listen to while they study. Because music elicits feelings and emotional responses from us, it is important for students to choose the right music to study with. Not all music is created equal. Research studies have shown that students that listen to instrumental and classical music while they cram are more likely to remember the information they’re studying and score higher on their homework or tests. Studies also suggest that students who listen to rock music show elevated signs of anxiety, anger and arousal, all emotions that are not conducive to a good study environment.

Creating the right study environment can make or break a student’s chance of passing an important test. Be sure to choose the music wisely, set it to a soft and pleasant background volume and try to relax. And if you are a student that does not enjoy listening to any music while you study, don’t worry! Find the best cramming situation that works for you and stick with it. Everyone is different and so are their study habits.

Stress-Free Paralegal Degrees

Online paralegal degree options operate in the same manner as any other online degree program and have expanded over the years to present students with a wide array of options.  Paralegal degrees have helped create a need for online degree programs that can cater to specific subjects like law and government, rather than taking the time to travel to a nearby campus to take classes.  This is additionally a better option than earlier programs that existed a decade ago, in which students would have to call a hotline to receive study materials and simply earn their degree without any help other than their books.  Online paralegal degree programs now offer a different option and area available within many of the top accredited online schools.  Additionally, paralegal degrees offer students the opportunity to grow within the legal community without devoting all their time to 60-hour work weeks. 

Online paralegal degree options allow students to participate in the legal world where they would normally have to pass the bar in order to participate in.  With a paralegal degree, students can observe every aspect of the legal world, and enter into a career as a court reporter, paralegal, and legal assistant.  Furthermore, this introduction into the legal world can help students decide whether they want to pursue the more advanced law degree later on.  Paralegal degree programs simply require a high school diploma or the equivalent GED. 

Obtaining a paralegal degree can be a very beneficial way to determine whether you want to pursue a law degree.  Online paralegal degree options allow students to both peruse the various schools, and additionally gain a degree which gets their foot in the door of the legal community.  Additionally, many students are attracted by aspects of the law but do not have the patience to commit three years in receiving a juris doctorate.  Rather than commit your career to 60-hour weeks and years of stress, paralegal degree programs offer students the opportunity to get a great education in law, view all the nitty-gritty aspects of court, and still maintain a healthy family life.  Paralegal degree programs have always been popular degrees because they are very specified and offer many students the experience they need to gain a legal assistant position or court reporter position.  The many online paralegal degree options are additionally growing each year, as more and more online colleges have begun to incorporate similar programs into their course listings.  Paralegal degrees are a popular online degree program which offers job security and gives students a specialized field to work with, rather than the many broad liberal arts degrees. 

Police Salaries Across the U.S.

Police salaries across the U.S. vary according to geographic location, but typically remain higher in the largest cities.  The average starting salary around the U.S. is between $30,000 and $40,000, although this amount increases nearly every year.  After 20 years, this amount nearly doubles, reaching $80,000.  Additionally, depending on your rank within the force, your salary can double on its own once you take on more responsibility, from police corporal all the way up to police chief.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, most police salaries across the U.S. place police officers within the top third of wage earners within their individual cities, demonstrating that this career is both morally and monetarily rewarding.  Cities with a high prevalence of crime start their officers off at a higher rate though, with some reaching $54,000 as a starting salary.  Different cities have different needs to meet and additionally require more from their officers than other cities.

The current median annual earnings for police officers is $47,460, with the middle 50 percent earning between $35,600 and $59,880.  The top 10 percent earn less than $27,310 and the highest 10 percent earn more than $72,450.  Depending on which aspect of government you work for as a police officer, you can earn a different amount.  The median annual earnings for the Federal government is $43,510; $52,540 in State government; and $47,190 in local government.  Federal law provides specific salary requirements to Federal employees who serve in law enforcement.  Additionally, Federal special agents receive Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) which is equal to 25 percent of their grade and step.  This is unique for the federal government because it demands much more time and service than other police units. 

Police and detectives additionally earn different amounts due to the diverse type of work both aspects of the job require.  For example, the median earnings of a detective is over $10,000 more than that of an ordinary police officer, $58,260.  Additionally, the middle 50 percent earn between $43,920 and $76,350.    There is an even bigger gap between the lowest 10 percent and the highest 10 percent, with their earnings at $34,480 and $92,590, respectively.  Detective salaries are different additionally, according to the type of government, ranged at $69,510 in federal government (vastly different for the police officer pay at Federal government), $49, 370 in State government, and $52,520 in local government.  While police officers can include a wide variety of individuals, it becomes important to look at all the different positions which the departments offer in order to accurately gauge what your own pay rate could be if you joined the force.  This appears to be one career in which the employees are loyal and constantly move up in rank, leading to larger salaries over the years.  Additionally, this career has become recession-proof, since there is a constant need for police officers across the country.  

So You Want to Be an FBI Agent?

A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and specialized work experience are two important keys that can unlock a fascinating career as a special agent with one of the federal government’s most exciting agencies—the Federal Bureau of Investigations, or the FBI.

The mission of the FBI is "to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and international agencies and partners." While television and movies usually depict secret agents performing complex espionage assignments, it turns out there are many ways for special agents to accomplish such a lofty mission. While covert operations have their place, the FBI also needs special agents with accounting and finance skills, computer scientists to work in cyber crimes, language specialists to interpret terrorist threats from foreign countries, and forensic scientists to examine criminal evidence.

To become a special agent with the FBI, you must be a U.S. citizen (or a citizen of the Northern Mariana Islands), you must be between the ages of 23 and 37, you must hold a four-year degree from an accredited college or university, and have at least three years of professional work experience, according to the FBI website. You must also have a valid driver’s license and be available to relocate for assignment anywhere in the FBI’s jurisdiction, the site maintains.

But that’s not all. Special agent applicants must take a series of written tests and even additional testing in your indicated foreign language, if you claim to be proficient in a language. So if you plan on becoming an FBI agent, you’d better hone your writing skills while you’re in college. Phase II of your testing involves an in-person interview, so it also pays to learn as much as you can during your interpersonal communication classes in college. Once you make the cut, you also must be able to pass a physical fitness test, a medical examination, and submit to an FBI background check.

If you make it through the highly selective hiring process, you move on to an intense 21-week-long FBI Academy in which special agent trainees participate in physical fitness, defensive tactics, and firearms training. You are assigned to an FBI division, some of which include counterintelligence, counterterrorism, the criminal investigative division (CID) and the cyber division. After Academy, an agent is assigned to one of the FBI’s 56 field offices.

Becoming an FBI agent is a difficult journey, but with the right skills and education, it is certainly within your grasp.

Spotlight on Victims Services Coordinators

When you think of careers in criminal justice, usually what comes to mind are the more visible careers, such as police officers, lawyers and judges. Because of this, some of the more behind-the-scenes positions in the realm of criminal justice get overlooked. One of the most overlooked careers in criminal justice is the victims services coordinator. Even so, these criminal justice professionals play an important role in law enforcement offices throughout the U.S.

The role of the victims services coordinator differs from that of a traditional law enforcement officer in that their focus is usually on the victims of a crime rather than the perpetrators of a crime. They also work with witnesses of crimes, survivors of tragedies and their significant others. Because victims services coordinators work with such a vulnerable population, they must be able to demonstrate empathy, compassion and understanding day in and day out. Many have even been known to offer a shoulder to cry on from time to time.

When a crime occurs, particularly a violent crime such as a murder or assault, the victims services coordinator meets with the victim(s) of the crime to assess their needs and arrange to meet those needs if possible. For instance, if a woman reports to the local sheriff’s office that her husband has been beating her, a victims services coordinator might help arrange for her to move into a women’s shelter while sheriff’s deputies work to put the abuser behind bars.

A victims services coordinator’s other responsibilities might include arranging for a victim to receive counseling, helping people apply for crime victim compensation benefits and keeping witnesses abreast of their case status and trail date scheduling. They also educate victims on their rights and encourage victims to testify in court against their abusers, as many are afraid or intimidated to do so.

Sometimes victims services coordinators also help meet the short-term needs of victims of tragedies. For instance, if someone’s home burns down and a family loses all of their possessions, a victims services coordinator may arrange to put the family up temporarily in a motel or even purchase them a change of clothing. If these provisions are not in a jurisdiction’s budget, the coordinator may ensure the family gets connected with a nonprofit organization that can help them.

Finally, a victims services coordinator is also usually heavily involved in community outreach and crime prevention. That means they play a major role in educating the general public about issues such as domestic abuse, sexual abuse and child abuse.

Managing Your Time in College

In college you will find that you have to manage a lot of responsibilities. From classes to study groups, you may feel as if there is never enough time in the day to do everything you need to do. If you recently graduated high school, you are used to spending the majority of your day in class, so going from seven hour school days to a couple of classes that only take up a few hours of the day can leave you with a lot of free time. Unlike high school where most of the work is done while you are in class, in college most of your work is done outside of class. Therefore, your free time isn’t necessarily free, and it’s important that you learn how to manage it.

You can learn how to manage your time by thinking about how you use it in the first place. To get a good picture of how you spend the day, take a few days to record what you do. Keep track by using a weekly schedule containing the hours of each day, and begin taking notes. Spend a few hours watching TV, working out, or running errands after class? Write it down. After a few days of this you should be able to get a realistic picture of what you devote your life to. You may realize that the reason you are struggling to get your school work done is because you are starting to spend a little too much time surfing the Internet and not enough reading your textbooks.

You can learn how to manage your time by organizing your time. Spend some time at the beginning of the week thinking about how you can utilize your time during it. Create a balance in your schedule. There are 168 hours in one week, and ideally you should spend an equal amount of time on academics, personal and social activities, and, of course, sleep. While some weeks will require that you spend more time studying for exams than others, having a regular balance between your school life and personal life will help you to not get burned out. Make a list of all the things, both academic and personal, that you need to accomplish by the end of the week. Then find the times that you are not in class each day that you can work on them. Time management is all about making a plan and sticking to it, and having a set plan for each day will help you to feel more motivated to complete everything you have scheduled.

United States Marshal: Career Information

To become a United States Marshal, you must qualify in a number of areas. You must be between the ages of 21 and 36 years old, have a valid driver’s license and pass a background check. U.S. Marshals also need to have a Bachelor’s degree or at least three years of work or educational experience that is approved by the agency.

Top Schools Offering U.S. Marshal Degree Programs:

The links below will allow you to request enrollment information from top national schools that offer a US Marshal degree program:



Degree Requirements to become a U.S. Marshal:

Degree programs for U.S. Marshals include homeland security, criminal justice, or law enforcement. By completing one of these programs, you will learn about the policies, laws, psychology and players that define the U.S. criminal justice system and counter terrorism efforts. U.S. Marshals will also have to undergo a physical examination and possibly some training before being allowed into the field.

Duties of a U.S. Marshal: What are the duties / traits of a successful U.S. Marshal?

U.S. Marshals are part of a federal law enforcement agency. They are responsible for finding fugitives and bringing them to justice. U.S. Marshals conduct surveillance, make arrests and are often involved in dangerous, highly stressful situations.

U.S. Marshal Salary: How much does a U.S. Marshal make?

U.S. Marshals are hired at different levels, and entry level marshals can expect to earn $27,000 and $34,000 or $31,000 and $39,000, depending on where you live. After you earn more experience, you may be able to earn much more.

Sheriff Career Information

Sheriffs are police officers at the county level and are responsible for a number of law enforcement duties. All Sheriffs must fit the following criteria: You must be a U.S. citizen, at least 21 years old, have a high school diploma or GED and an Associate’s degree. If you are accepted into the Sheriff’s Academy, you will be enrolled in a training program to teach you about your specific duties.

Schools that offer related degrees:

The links below will allow you to request free enrollment information directly from national schools that offer Sheriff related degree programs:


Degree Requirements to become a Sheriff:

Most sheriff’s offices require their applicants to have an Associate’s degree in a field like criminal justice. A Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice or a related subject area is also worth pursuing if you think it will give you a better chance of being accepted. These degree programs will instruct you in areas like law enforcement, corrections, criminal psychology, juvenile justice and more. You may be able to specialize in one of these areas, depending on your program.

Duties of a Sheriff: What are the duties / traits of a successful Sheriff?

Sheriffs control the law enforcement rules, officers and techniques in their county. From traffic violations to reporting and carrying out arrest warrants to arresting criminals to interviewing witnesses to keeping the peace generally, sheriffs are responsible for investigating and monitoring any suspect behavior or incidents in their area. Sheriffs may also be needed to keep order in courtrooms.

Sheriff Salary: How much does a Sheriff make?

The average yearly salary for a sheriff in the United States is between $45,000 and $50,000, though some can earn up to $70,000. The specific amount depends on your county.

Finding a Job After Graduation

Graduating from college is both exhilarating and daunting at the same time. Students have just accomplished a great feat, completing four years (more for some) of undergraduate education or two years of graduate education and are now ready to join the workforce. Closing one chapter of life to start a new paying one! But with the unemployment rate still high after the economic downturn, students are finding that landing a job is harder than they imagined.

College is a great venue to prepare students for the workplace. It teaches them work ethic, and the skill set to succeed in their desired industry. But what prepares students for job hunting?

There are many resources available to students to aid in their job search, if they choose to take advantage of them. Before a student graduates, the first thing they should do is get in touch with their university or college career services department. These offices are experts at job assistance and placement and truly want to see their graduates employed. They are also a great resource for names and contact information of university alumni that are willing and able to assist recent graduates with employment possibilities in a shared and similar field. Also, local companies will often provide universities and colleges with announcements of their employment opportunities in hopes of snaring a recent graduate with the perfect qualifications. Students or recent graduates should also try reaching out to their professors. These individuals are well respected members of their field and might know of employment opportunities in the industry.

Student should also join professional organizations in their desired field of employment. These associations provide great networking and educational gatherings for recent graduates to mingle with other industry people, including peers and potential employers. Also, most organizations provide members with access to their exclusive job database. Member companies can submit private job listings that are only viewable to other members. While most professional organizations require a fee to join, if you land a job it will be all worth it. Other great resources for students are the job boards and website available online. These website allow students to upload resumes, cover letters and personalized profiles to aid in their job hunting. Unfortunately, because many larger companies post their available jobs on these large job boards, they receive a great number of applicants in response.

To join this workforce, it takes perseverance. And with these resources, some hard work and lots of research, job hunting doesn’t have to be such a headache for recent graduates.

Essential Money Tips for Graduates

Ah, graduation. A time when you finally shed your student status and start living like an adult. It’s exciting and frightening at the same time, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these essential money tips, and you can get your finances on track from the start.

Live like a broke college student. Even though you’re no longer a student and you have a decent job, now is not the time to start throwing money in the air. You’re used to living a modest life, so take advantage of this and keep more of your money where it counts: with you. Avoid blowing your cash on nonessentials, live like you’re just scraping by, and you can build an awesome nest egg to use for an engagement ring, house, retirement, and other things that are far more important than having the most flashy car or going out every night.

Keep track of your money. Use a realistic monthly budget and stick to it as well as you can. Little things can add up faster than you may realize.

Create an emergency fund. In case of emergencies or times when you need cash quickly, have money on hand to bail yourself out. This can help you avoid credit card debt and other financial snags, so do yourself a favor and think ahead.

Don’t buy a new car. Wait until you’ve really hit it big to buy a nice car. For now, make do with what you’ve got until it’s too expensive to maintain or isn’t working for your lifestyle. You’ll save thousands of dollars in the long run. It’s even better if you can manage to go without having to pay a car note for a few years.

Rent a modest apartment with a roommate. A luxury apartment downtown might be fun, but you just don’t need it. Save money on real estate and spend it where it really matters by renting an apartment that is nice, but affordable. Find a roommate that you’d like to live with and share expenses to save an incredible amount of money.

Being smart with your money is so important for new graduates. You’re just starting your independent life, so getting started with a good financial foundation can make a great difference. Live simply, save what you can, and think carefully about your financial future.

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